If you know somebody who is hard of hearing, then it can sometimes be challenging to communicate with them. Their ears are no longer able to send signals to their brains that are strong enough for them to interpret what you are saying accurately. 

This lack of ability to converse can create problems. Not only does it make holding conversations difficult, but it can also lead to misunderstandings, isolation and frustration

In this post, we present some tips for communicating better with those who have hearing loss. Use what follows to improve your relationship with the person you know who is hard of hearing. 

Stand around a meter away and keep your lips visible

While a person who is hard of hearing might have a hearing aid, it is also vital that they can see your lips moving while you speak. Watching the shape of your mouth helps them determine what you just said if they can’t quite work it out from the sounds alone. 

People who regularly interact with those with hearing loss often position themselves around a meter away while talking, giving the person who is hard of hearing a good view of their mouth. Try not to look away or cover your mouth, as this will make it more difficult to decipher what you’re saying. 

Don’t mumble or shout

The reason why you shouldn’t mumble while speaking with somebody who is hard of hearing is obvious: your voice may be too quiet for them to hear. When it comes to shouting, however, it’s not as clear cut. Surely shouting would make conversations easier?

Not necessarily. The reason is that shouting distorts the shape of your lips. It’s actually harder to tell what you’re saying when you shout compared to when you speak normally. 

The best advice? Speak clearly and at a reasonable volume, and you should dramatically improve your ability to converse. 

In group conversations, take turns

Listening to many voices at once is a challenge for people who are hard of hearing. People with hearing loss are not as adept at focusing on the voice of one person. The simultaneous input creates confusion and overloads the brain’s ability to interpret sounds.

It is crucial, therefore, that everyone in the group waits their turn to speak. Talking over other people or interrupting makes it harder for people who are hard of hearing to follow the conversation. 

Get comfortable with repeating yourself

People who are hard of hearing often need you to repeat what you just said so that they understand it. Unfortunately, over time, they may become unwilling to ask you say what you just said again because they feel that it might frustrate you. 

If you are talking with someone who is hard of hearing, make it clear that you don’t mind being asked to repeat yourself. Doing this will encourage them to say when they don't understand something, instead of staying silent. 

Adjust the lights

Adjusting the lighting in your room might seem like a strange tip for communicating with the hard of hearing, but when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. When a person with hearing loss can clearly see your face and lips, it’s much easier for them to understand what you are saying. Try, if possible, to move out of the shadow. 

If you are in bright sunshine, it may be too bright for the person with hearing loss to get a good view of your face. If so, move into the shade so that they can see you better. 

Use visual cues

Humans communicate both verbally and non-verbally. Thus, a person with hearing loss can find your gestures helpful when trying to understand what you are saying. Don’t be afraid of waving your arms around to communicate the tone and detail of what you are saying. 

Don’t give up

For some people, it can be tempting to give up when communicating with a person who is hard of hearing. We’re so used to people interpreting and understanding what we’ve said the first time around that we don’t like having to repeat ourselves. 

Giving up or saying I’ll tell you later, however, is something that many people with hearing loss do not like. If you really can’t communicate, trying writing it down, sending an email or writing a text. There are plenty of ways that you can get the message across. 

Would you like to find out more about hearing loss? If so, then call Salyer Hearing Center. For Sylva, use 828-586-7474, Franklin, 828-524-5599 and Murphy, 828-835-1014.